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Microbiomes & Sustainability

The course is an introduction to microbiomes and sustainability. It argues that global microbiomes are fundamentally relevant to sustainability. Topics include principles of sustainability, sustainable development, microbiomes in humans and the environment, bioremediation, and bioretention.

This course is archived
Estimated 4 weeks
3–5 hours per week
Instructor-led on a course schedule
Optional upgrade available

About this course

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For more than 3.5 billion years microbes and their communities (microbiomes) have shaped the Earth and its inhabitants. A holistic understanding of the role of our planet’s microbiomes is key to addressing the challenges facing humanity in the 21st century. By analyzing their constituent genes, RNA molecules, proteins, and chemical metabolites, we are beginning to gain profound insights into the crucial role played by microbiomes in human health and disease. The microbiota associated with crops and soils provide nitrogen, phosphorus, and other essential nutrients, decompose pollutants, and inhibit the activity of pathogens. Through photosynthesis, microbes in the oceans remove 50% of atmospheric carbon dioxide and generate the same amount of oxygen. Given the extensive roles of microbes, a greater appreciation of microbiome function would help us to address the challenges that we face to supply food, energy, and clean water while maintaining and improving the health of our population and ecosystems - actions which are crucial to achieving sustainability.

Rapid advances in the microbiome field have been made possible by interdisciplinary research. If we are to harness microbiome function to achieve sustainability, we need to promote such integrative thinking. Thus, an interdisciplinary strategy that promotes collaboration and creative problem-solving will also be introduced.

At a glance

  • Language: English
  • Video Transcript: English

What you'll learn

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  • Appreciate the role of microbiomes in hosts (humans, animals, plants) and in th environment
  • Explore the concept of sustainability
  • Examine the relevance of microbiomes to the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals
  • Reflect on the interdisciplinarity required for harnessing microbiome functions for improved sustainability
  1. Sustainability
  2. Threshold Concepts: Bridging Sustainability and Microbiomes
  3. Which Global Problems Can Be Addressed with Microbiomes?
  4. What Microbiome-based Solutions Can We Develop?

About the instructors

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